The National LGBTQ Task Force hosted its 21st annual Miami Gala at the Fontainebleau this past Saturday, Oct. 7. Billed as an evening to celebrate “freedom, beauty, truth and love,” attendees arrived in their best formal attire with an extensive silent auction in place with items donated by close to two hundred companies and organizations.

During the program, 2017 Gala Chair, community activist Josue Santiago, delivered an engaging special thank you song to sponsors such as Wells Fargo, Everlast Productions, Carnival Foundation and Liebe and Seth Gadinsky, by singing a rendition to Nina Simone’s 1965 hit “Feeling Good.” 

Although entertainment was plenty at the Gala, the messaging for its cause was quite clear. Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said of the event, “Inspiration is desperately needed at this time. As a diverse and loving LGBTQ community, we are facing new attempts to roll back our hard-won rights from the highest elected offices in the country. That’s why your support is vital to the Task Force and everyone we care about right now. We are grateful that you are our partners in this work. Freedom, beauty, truth and love guide our work tonight and everyday.” 

A call for donations via text was announced during a three-course dinner with donations projected on overhead video screens. Some of the donation messages congratulated the Task Force staff and award honorees, while others read with more personalized messages, such as: “Love Wins,” and “In honor of Hillary Clinton, our true President of the United States.”

Each year an individual is selected to receive the Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award, named after the late activist and founding board member of the Dade Human Rights Foundation, Eddie McIntyre. In recognition for their long-standing activism and philanthropic work in the LGBT community, married couple Alberto Arias and Wood Kinnard, were presented with the prestigious award by last years Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award Honoree, Miami Herald journalist Steve Rothaus. 

Also honored for their outstanding support and dedication to the LGBT community was Grammy Award-winning singer, actress, songwriter, author, and philanthropist Gloria Estefan, who received the National Leadership Award. Estefan was introduced by Andrea Burns, who starred as Estefan's mother in the original Broadway production of "On Your Feet," and South Florida’s Channel 10 newsperson Louis Aguirre. Following the program, attendees reveled to the pulsating rhythms of DJ AJ Reddy. 

The Task Force Gala provides vital funding for organizations serving the South Florida LGBT community as the National LGBTQ Task Force is committed to returning a significant portion of the net proceeds of both the Gala and the Winter Party Festival to local service organizations through a grant making process administered by the Miami Foundation. To date it has awarded more than $2.7 million in grants.